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Review: Club sega

A nice distraction but don’t expect to win

Club sega is your typical Japanese arcade with UFO machines (offering the chance to win figures and food), medal games (slot machines using metal tokens), music games, classical arcade games, and photo stickers.

While there is a lot, arcades like this are almost systemic in Japan. While gambolling in Japan is illegal, there is room for interpretation with pachinko, slots and arcades.

The club in Nabari is nothing special- but it doesn’t need to be. Nabari is in the 田舎(INAKA- or country side), and while there is a generalisation that such places don’t have much- it can be true for Nabari.

All-in-all, it’s a bit of fun, but make sure that it stays that way- set a budget before arrival and stick to it- I stuck to 1000 JPY (and I didn’t win anything) and while I could have spent more, you need to be aware of how much things generally cost. If I won a figure I wanted, it may have cost 5000 JPY to win but I could buy it for 1500 JPY. It’s all about what’s more important to you: winning no matter the cost (literally) or balancing a bit of fun with the change of winning.

I much prefer watching people play on YouTube while they waste their money.

If you go have fun but be warned.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

English speaking learnt I have not?

Random English use in Japan: part 1

Japan has a fascination with foreign languages – most noticeable its use on everyday products. There are many such examples and I could dedicate the blog to bad English use in Japan- but that would get repetitive. I will however choose weird use, while not necessarily bad, you must question why this was chosen.

The first picture features a lovely phrase on a recycling container. Grammatically it is fine, but the message is a little existential for a recycling container. “Would you like to review what your life should be…?”- where shall I begin?

Firstly, “like to review”, think over your life and evaluate it but do nothing? Or review your live and put an implement an action plan to have the live you want? Next, “what your life should be”, is okay but wouldn’t “where you life should be up to”, read a bit better or as the message is trying to say “are you happy with your lot in life?”

Regardless of this, it’s a recycling bin- why are such questions being asked on this to people who most lively will not understand the English on it?

Grammar my old friend please come back to Japan again….moving on. “Today’s schedule with [a] smile”, is okay but what about tomorrow’s schedule or next weeks etc? It seems a little bit fixed in addition to this, there is no theatre in Nabari so there’s that problem.

Or does the schedule consist of cleaning and that’s it- which is a slightly darker look on Japanese households. Also, are you supposed to check once completed? The message is a bit confused.

These 2 are just the start of a series of Japenglish to come, in addition to Japench (Japanese French) which is usually used correctly.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring  

Review: Nafco

The homestore that has everything

When living in Japan, occasionally there is a need to buy furniture, tools or other common items that help a house run smoothly- enter Nafco.

Nafco is a home furniture giant that have hundreds of stores scattered across Japan, mostly concentrated in Kyushu (with 194 stores) and radiating outwards to further regions- each with less stores, Hokkaido having none.

But what does such a store have, you may ask. Nafco has everything from building supplies, gardening supplies, cleaning products, pet products, bicycles, furniture, beds, kitchens, and even coffee.

But my favourite sections are the reduced sections (no surprise there)- they usually sell off their old products at very good process but there is still a ‘it’s cheap for Japan’ feeling on occasion with a wireless mouse for 3000 JPY (with 30% off).

General household items are usually brilliant prices. Soaps, shampoo, laundry detergent- or any other cleaning supply is very cheap when compared to a supermarket. This extends to their stationery and pet food sections.

Additionally, they have a work clothing section- for which I do frequent- with a good range of products at a brilliant price. If your feet are normal sized (not Godzilla sized) they also sell a good range of footwear from crocs, to trainers/sneakers, to work gear, and wellington boots.

The homeware section is massive (an entire floor of it) and they sell so many items. While shopping, there is not a feeling of being in a warehouse (like other massive stores) but a department store instead- which always helps.

If you ever needed a proper desk or computer gaming chair- they can also be bought here starting at 12,000 JPY- which is a normal price for the US and UK markets.

Finally, there is also a point card available. When you spend money here, you acuminate points which can be used to either reduce the price of future transactions or completely pay for them.  

Conclusion, it’s a very good place to go to but be careful in pricing- it can be a bit up and down at times and the gardening section has many plants- brilliant for your gardening needs.

If you have the inclination, please check it out.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

The call that no-one wants

Bereavement entitlement in Japan

By a Japanese cementary

When you live in Japan, there is a likelihood that the call will come at some point and for me that was today.

If you are in the same situation as I, your first thought may be to go back and do what you can to help. But what rights do you have?

Legal rights for full time workers

忌引き休暇 (きびききゅうか/kibiki kyuka) is the Japanese term for condolence leave and it usually is only for full time employees- not anyone working or classified as working part time (this includes English conversation schools, short-term workers etc).

The classification for leave is based upon the degree of relationship between yourself and the deceased:

Relationship Usual allowed leave
Aunt/ Uncle 2 days
Child 5 days
Cousin 2 days
Grandchild 3 days
Grandparent 3 days
Parent 5 days
Sibling 3 days
Spouse 5 days
Other Usually none

If the time is not enough, then you would have to use vacation days as a way to make this up or take unpaid leave. If you are lucky, then you can travel overseas and say your goodbyes or is you cannot, keep the channels of communication open with your company and your family abroad.

If you are going through this as well, take each day as it comes.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

Todays blog is dedicated to my Uncle Kevin. His death is a shock to all. May he rest in peace.

安らかに眠れ (Yasuraka ni nemure)

Requiescat in pace

Opinion: the decline of Daiso

Know as Japan’s dollar store, but should it be?

Daiso I known to many as being the epi-centre of all things cheap. From Electronics, to cosmetics, food, DVDs etc. It has it all.

Additionally there are many YouTube videos that feature tag lines such as “I buy dollar store makeup”, “I buy food from the dollar store” (note: if you want to see how prolific this is, just search ‘daiso’ on YouTube- the hits DO NOT END).

But the problem is that not all items are 100 JPY, some are 300, 400, 500 or higher and that is my first problem- it is NOT a dollar store nor is it as true 百円ショップ (ひゃくえん-100 yen)shop and It never claims to be- despite so much western media attention depicting it as that.

Another problem is that, while they have a good selection, shopping there makes you feel cheap or to put it a different way- it’s 100 yen, I suppose I can buy it at that price. Which is NOT how you want to feel shopping, it should be more “I can’t believe that it is only 100 yen”. Additionally, some items are of a poor quality which makes you as a very basic question- what am I buying.

But is there an alternative?

Of course, its Japan at the end of the day. My favourite and true 百円ショップ is Seria which to put briefly here (as the review is to come), seems to have much better quality of stock, has themed sections and displays, is always busy (having a lot of other people in a store helps your confidence when buying), and most importantly everything is actually 100 JPY + tax (so 108 JPY at time of writing).

Opinion: Fiore Maede Casa Florist

Here’s a little that’ll grow on you

Occasionally when you look around your apartment, it just looks a bit empty. There’s something missing- I take it you know what I mean?

I went a little out of my way this week to Aeon Town Iga Ueno (イオンタウン伊賀上野) in Iga-city and while there I noticed a florist and immediately, I knew what was missing.

I went in and there was a good selection and the arrangements were also quite spooky- it is coming up to Halloween after all. The plants (the important bit) were looked after and the attendant was extremely friendly and happy for me to take a photo (the important bit!). Additionally, it is very reasonably priced (the most important aspect).

The chain of florists are all located in Mie Prefecture (三重県―みえけん) in three cities: Matsusaka (松阪市), Tsu (津市), and Iga (伊賀)- so there are quite clustered together.

If your close to one and you have a need for a nice plant- either indoor, outdoors or flowers for a grave, please check it out- it is definitely worth a visit.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

Japanese advertising: the need to google

When advertising in Japan, don’t worry about the website, worry about gooogle

Japanese has a non-latin based writing system which is unique, even though there are borrowed elements within. This did not pose a problem originally but this changed with the computer age.

Most websites use a Latin based Web address to search (exploringlanguages.org is a brilliant example) rather than a Arabic, Japanese, cyralic or other root based language. One reason for this is the adaptability the Latin based system, as it can spell out the phonics of other language systems.

This has effected Japanese in a particular way. While English language learning is heavily emphasised at schools here, not everyone understands the need; either globally or within Japan. This has left many people without the ability to read non-Japanese scripts–which brings us back google.

As any polygot knows, you can Google in other languages, without exception. Therefore what often happens in Japan is that advertisers don’t include their website address (due to the Latin based system ) but they instead include the information one is to Google to get to the website.

While it is a strange system, its the Japanese way and not likely to change any time soon.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

Kintetsu limited express trains

The first class experience without the usual first class cost

There is also an additional treat coming next year, the debut of a new limited express train but what’s all the type about?

If you are travelling from Nagoya to Osaka, there are several options for you to choose from. There is the classic choice- the shinkansen on the JR line. While it is an experience I recommend doing at least once, there is a rarer choice (at least for visitors to Japan) the Kintetsu line.

The Kintetsu railway is a more local service that services trains in the Tokai region specifically everywhere from Nagoya, Osaka and Mie-prefecture to Nara, Kyoto with further destinations as well.

On this service there are local trains (sometimes ワンマン電車 or one-man trains) that stop at every station, express trains that skip smaller stop, semi-express that skips further and finally the crème de la crème the limited express. Limited express trains can skip up to 20 stations in between trips and it is mostly used for trips and foe getting to place in style.

As highlighted in the photo above, there is a base train fare that everyone pays- 2360 JPY (going from Nagoya to Osaka) and an additional limited express fair which is 1900 JPY which is normally 4260 JPY one way. Furthermore, there is the Ise-liner ( a different model of limited express trains) that offers seats for an additional 300 JPY, the luxury car.

The question remains, why do so many people take limited express trains if there is an additional cost when Japanese trains are so fast anyways?

One reason is convenience. The Kintetsu line from Ise-Nakagawa (one of the main connection/ transfer points) is skipped completely on longer distance trains from Nagoya. Additionally, trains to Kyoto usually require a transfer in Yamato-Yagi (another connection hub) which is again skipped.

Furthermore, all limited express trains have reserved seating (which you must follow) so you have a granted comfortable seat that will take you to your destination at a quicker pace than the express trains.

Finally, there are the ammonites. All limited express trains have outlets to charge your laptop or mobile device, all have toilets (western style), places to wash your hands, vending machines and for the smokers a place to smoke all while watching the world rush past some beautiful landscapes.

While I spend my life on trains and I enjoy catching all types of trains, the limited express is a special treat that always feels like the start of an adventure- I can’t ride it everyday but I’ll always enjoy riding them when I can.

There is one last temptation offered, Kintetsu railways usually offer discounts if purchased online with the added benefit of collection points to use in the future and even get free rides. But there is a dark side to point collection, more to come on this later.

I hope you enjoyed reading and happy exploring.

For more information or booking, please check out the site below (not sponsored)

https://www.kintetsu.co.jp/foreign/english/about/limited_express/

Consumption tax increase

Panic panic beer will be more expensive

If you are in Japan, you cannot escape the news of the consumer tax increase and I hate to say it but it’s nothing to worry about.

Countdown to the tax increase

The tax is increasing from 8% to 10% but not everything will increase. Daily necessities will stay at 8% and so will food to go. On the increase is sit-in meals, alcohol, tobacco, taxis etc.

Notification of tax increase on the Iga-tetsu line

Firstly advice, if an extra 2% is something that you are worried about, complete all transactions at restaurants, train stations, qwith taxi companies by 23:59:59 on September 30th because at 00:00:00 October 1st the tax rate goes into effect–or see the dual tax rate on your reciet at a convince store.

Now in reality, it’s nothing to worry about, it may affect your budget at fist but the changed will soon go unnoticed.

Personally, I think there is more worry about than a slight tax increase.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring

Review: Vie de France

A little bit of a treat, at a good price

Like any good coffee addict, I need my coffee to pretend I can act like a normal human. Luckily, Vie de France has by back.

Vie de France is the quintessential Japanese French bakery- that is to say a cherry-picked French cuisine for the Japanese market. They offer a good range of baked goods, all of which are delicious, and I have yet to find a bad product.

But, I have yet to see traditional French bread here- despite its name. But it does have one advantage, they’re always by a train station so there’s always time for a treat on the go.

The bread in the picture is a cheese and apple filled bun- which is my favourite thing to get and very sweet (it goes very well with pure black coffee)- please ignore the milk coffee- DEFINITELY not mine.

If you have the time, or just need your fix, please check it out.

As always, happy exploring and enjoy that coffee.

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